Total-body workouts for optimal fitness

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By Katrina Laczoffy

With weight training now becoming a very mainstream form of exercise for both males and females who want to lose body fat and build some lean muscle (tone up), it is now commonplace to see more people (females in particular) hitting the weights section of the gym and abandoning the outdated cardio section.

There can still be a lot of confusion regarding the most effective and efficient way to structure your training program, especially as many people split their body parts up into groups, training legs on one day, chest on another, arms on another and so on. This is not the most efficient way for most busy, working people to achieve their fitness goals.

Total body workouts can help you progress and is easy to fit into your schedule.

Performed three to four days a week, total body workouts are based on complex, multi-joint movements that engage more muscle groups at once, in conjunction with the core muscles. When talking about this form of workout, many people envision a lightweight circuit workout however, a real full-body workout performed with an athlete mentality and with a goal in mind still allows for maximal contractions with heavy weights.

Yet, the major benefit of this workout is that it still allows for a FULL recovery so you can grow and repair muscles whilst still training at the optimal intensity each session. As a result, this type of training will prevent inevitable burnout and injury caused by overtraining!

So let’s have a look at the benefits of a full body workout.

  1. Saves Time

This is one of the biggest pros to full-body workouts. By training your whole body within one workout will decrease you gym frequency. In addition, you won’t be in the gym for three hours. Yes you heard me, these workouts are quick and efficient. About one to one and a half hours will be the duration of the whole session.

Don’t forget the golden rule: “Quality over Quantity”.

  1. Burn more calories in less time

By using complex movements (for example a squat) you will always burn more calories as opposed to just doing leg curls. Why? Because you are using all the major muscle groups when performing exercises such as lunges and squats. These large muscle groups require heavier loads, more energy to coordinate movements and require more oxygen to function as compared to a single-joint exercise such as a bicep curl.

  1. Build more muscle

With total-body training you are actively targeting all your muscle groups three to four times a week which stimulates muscle growth. While isolation work it important for muscle hypertrophy, especially within body building or rehabilitation purposes, it’s not necessarily needed for fat loss or general fitness.

Why you ask? It doesn’t burn as many calories and isolation work one day per week isn’t frequent enough for most people to see gains in muscular size. A perfect example is “leg day”. You do one session within the week then the next six day the legs are neglected hence, it will take longer to reach your training goals.

  1. Increase strength

Total-body exercises challenge your body continuously and effectively. Exercises such as squats and deadlifts allow you to use heavy loads thus effectively allow you to build full body, functional strength.

  1. Total-body workouts offer flexibility

By training the whole body you’re able to stimulate the same muscles in one workout that might take two or three isolation-based workouts, for example, hamstring curl, hip extensions and leg extensions. Thus, not only will you save time, it also provides flexibility around your busy schedule.

In addition it gives you more freedom to peruse other activities such as swimming, yoga or Pilates without disregarding your strength program.

Katrina Laczoffy is a personal trainer at The Fit Stop, a personal training & group training studio in St Kilda East, specialising in fat loss, strength training & getting real fitness results.

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